The Next Wave (Metro Magazine)

 

Grab a copy of Metro’s May 2011 issue and read my interviews with actor Jake Roxas, models Samantha Lewis and Pauline Prieto, photographer Ria Regino, indie band Taken by Cars, chef Niño Laus, graphic designer Christian San Jose, fashion designer and blogger Laureen Uy, and the late AJ Perez.

The Golden Rules Every Writer Should Live Right By

Compiled by Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, and Nina Terol-Zialcita

(Published as a sidebar in The Manila Times article “How to Jumpstart That Freelance Writing Career” –  April 12, 2010)

1. Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else; don’t try to use someone else’s voice. Know yourself. Discover yourself. Know what’s comfortable and what works for you. Readers will be able to sense if you’re trying to fake something, and that is always an awful feeling.

2. Be patient with yourself. This is actually related to number 1. It might take a while for you to find your voice, or to find projects that you will love working on, or to get a paycheck that you will be happy with. As with many other things, writing—especially freelance writing—is a journey. It will take time, patience, networking, study, trial-and-error, and A LOT OF PRACTICE. So give yourself the time and space to explore your craft and you will emerge from it a better, more effective communicator.

3. Be original. It’s important to know who you are as a writer. It’s okay to find inspiration from great writers, but don’t copy them.

4. Write whatever. Practice writing so you will be good at it. It doesn’t matter whether you write in your journal or blog, you just need to write whenever possible.

5. Always learn. Grab learning opportunities whenever you can – join writing workshops, seminars, and other activities related to your craft. You can never go wrong with investing on your education.

6. Be obsessive-compulsive. Never take anything for granted. It’s the details that matter from start to finish. When interviewing, take detailed notes but also pay attention to your subject’s body language. When writing, pay careful attention to grammar, grammar, grammar. Never turn in work with a lot of grammar or typo errors, thinking that someone will “edit it anyway.” Pay careful attention to sources, references, insights, and deadlines. Writing is a very creative act, but it’s also bound by a lot of parameters. If you want to succeed as a freelancer, you’ll have to balance the art and the DISCIPLINE behind writing.

7. Go out. Meet people. If you think that being a writer means staying at your desk and nailed down to your computer, then you are so wrong. You need to go out, meet people and observe, listen to their conversations. Everyone has a story to tell to learn from and may be even write about.

8. Get to know people. Empathy is a trait of any good writer. Uncover a subject’s motivations, passions and imagine putting yourself in their shoes. It will enable you to paint personality profiles, and get the most out of your subject during an interview.

9. Never let an idea run away. Always bring a pen and paper to immediately write down an idea the absolute minute it strikes you. You’ll never know when a good idea will hit, so it’s always good to keep a pen and paper handy. If you’re caught without a pen, you type in your idea into your phone.


Comedy + Action = Date Night (WMN.ph)

Starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey

(This movie review about “Date Night” was published in WMN.ph, April 7, 2010)

Have you ever had a date gone bad? Well, nothing could probably compare to what happens in the action-comedy movie, Date Night.

Comedy superstars, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, play the lead roles in this film where they get to display their perfect comedic timing. It tells the story of an ordinary couple from the New Jersey suburbs, Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey, respectively), who transformed from ordinary to the opposite in just one night.

Having two kids and being married for quite some time, they have established a routine of their own, including their weekly date night. Every week they have dinner at the same restaurant, and they have even developed a habit of talking about the other couples in the nearby tables (read: imagining what the other couples’ stories might be and making up a conversation about it). This was actually one of the laugh-out-loud moments in the movie.

When the Fosters found out that another suburban couple (who happens to be their best friends) was splitting up, they decided to look into their own relationship and tried to abstain from the monotony in their lives. During one of their regular date nights, Claire decided to ditch her usual boring outfit and go for a more sophisticated look. This prompted Phil to dress up as well and suggest that they go to the new, upscale restaurant in Manhattan. Unfortunately, when they got there, there were no available tables. So Phil decided to steal the reservation of a couple that didn’t show up – the Tripplehorns.

As they pretended to be the Tripplehorns while enjoying their risotto, two serious-looking guys approached them and asked if they were, in fact, the Tripplehorns. The Fosters went along with their charade and from there, their dream date turned into a nightmare.

Date Night is a great movie to watch if you want to forget all the stress in your life, even for just an hour or so. But be aware that this is a comedy film for adults, and there are a lot of innuendos that are not fit for young ears, as well as scenes that may not be appropriate for innocent eyes. Overall, it would not fail to make the audience laugh as comedy’s big names – Carell and Fey, really deliver in this film. You will surely have a moment or two where you will laugh out loud.

Notable parts to watch out for are Mark Wahlberg’s bare-chested scenes, and the creative pole dancing moves of Carell and Fey. Also, don’t forget to check out the hilarious outtakes during the credits of the film!

(Photo taken from this website.)

Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day (WMN.ph)

(This “Mother’s Day” article was published in WMN.ph last April 2009 )

Each time Mother’s Day comes around, you rack your brain for the perfect gift to give your mom. But what can you give to a woman who has it all? To make it easy for you, here’s a list of gift ideas to suit every budget.

1. A Day at the Spa
Pamper your mom by treating her to a full day at the spa. She would surely enjoy a soothing aromatherapy body massage (P820) and other wellness treatments. Give her a day of rest and relaxation by presenting her with gift certificates from The Spa. Visit their branches around the metro or check out their website.

2. All About Beauty
You can never go wrong with giving a lady some kind of beauty product. Go for a nice-smelling perfume like Lacoste Touch of Pink (P4,150). She’ll definitely love its sweet scent! Look for more beauty products at Watson’s or other department stores.

3. Smell the Roses
Brighten up your mom’s day with some fresh flowers that she can display at home. Choose from a wide variety of floral arrangements (P150+) at Dangwa Flower Market along Dos Castillas Street in Sampaloc.

4. Wine and Dine
Schedule a date with your mom at a fancy restaurant and make sure that you offer to get the tab! Indulge and let her enjoy a scrumptious dinner buffet (P1,600+) at Circles Event Cafe in Shangri-La Hotel Makati. It’s best to make a reservation before going: call (02) 813-8888.

5. Bring Out Her Inner Fashionista
What woman wouldn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes? You can splurge on a designer item, but if your budget wouldn’t permit it, a simple one would do. Just get something that suits her taste. Try bargain bag hunting at Greenhills Shopping Center.

6. Be a Health Buff
Many mothers are striving for a healthy lifestyle but not everyone can do serious workouts. Let your mom try out yoga and see if she likes it. Give the gift of health and enroll her in a beginners’ yoga class. See www.yogamanila.com for more information.

7. All that Glitters
Women have an ongoing love affair with jewelry. You don’t have to get your mom something expensive; a simple pair of pearl earrings (P500) would suffice. Take your pick from the wide selection at the Pearl Market in Greenhills Shopping Center. 

8. Go Nature Tripping
Bring your mom and the rest of your family to the La Mesa Ecopark and enjoy this oasis in the heart of the city. For a mere P40 per person, you can treat your whole family and let them commune with nature. Head to East Farview Subdivision in Quezon City or find out more details first at www.lamesaecopark.com.

9. Get Gadget Crazy
For the tech-savvy mom, only the latest gadget would do. Consider giving her the new iPod shuffle (P4,190) that has a VoiceOver feature. With this, she’ll be able to store more of her favorite songs that she can listen to. Purchase it online at the Apple Store.

10. Be a Culture Vulture
Let your mom see more of the Philippines’ cultural side. Check out the latest exhibit at Ayala Museum in Greenbelt. Or, get a couple of tickets and accompany your mom to see a ballet, musical play, or whatever is showing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

(Image taken from this site.)

Typhoon Ketsana: The Aftermath

Here’s a piece I wrote a couple of days after Typhoon Ketsana hit Metro Manila and left it underwater.

No one was prepared for the wrath that typhoon Ketsana (local name Ondoy) released when it hit the Philippines last September 26, 2009. That was the day when Metro Manila experienced the worst rainfall in its history. Imagine getting 341 mm or 13.4 inches of rainfall in just a matter of six hours. That’s about a month’s worth of rainfall that the country usually gets. And although the Philippines is no stranger to typhoons, this was, by far, the worst ever and the one that left the most destruction.

From 8 AM to 2 PM that day, practically the whole of Metro Manila turned into a water world. The water filled the streets, underpasses, major highways, and buildings and residences. People were forced to seek higher ground – on top of their cars, rooftops and whatever stable structure they could get a hold of. And even if you get to the top, you’ll still feel scared when you see what’s happening on the ground – people needing rescue, objects being swallowed by the raging waters, parked cars moving along with the waves (yes, there were waves on the streets that used to be solid and dry). It wasn’t a pretty sight. I guess you really can’t put it to words. I think this video would tell it all.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcbTckGR-1o&feature=fvst]

This was taken inside a local hospital somewhere in Manila.

Typhoon Ketsana spared no one. Everyone was affected – the old, the young, the wealthy, the poor… The worst hit areas were Marikina, Rizal and Pasig, where the water level reached the second floor and people got stranded on the rooftops for hours, and others even more than 24 hours. They were drenched, cold, hungry and scared to death. Even when the rains stopped, rescue efforts couldn’t get to them right away because these areas became impassable and vehicles couldn’t get through. Those who had relatives on these areas braved the rains and the floods and went there on foot in the hope of rescuing them. The good thing that came out of this was that strangers were helping each other out – risking their lives to keep the others safe.

Even if the typhoon has already left the country, what happened is still fresh in the minds of the Filipinos. Ketsana left about 80% of Metro Manila underwater, more than a quarter of a million people displaced, more than two hundred dead, and millions worth of damage. The clean up has already begun and relief operations are ongoing. The Internet became a big tool in getting donations from other Filipinos abroad who wanted to help. People are updating their Facebook, Twitter and other sites on how to send donations over. A lot have responded, not only fellow Filipinos but other nationalities as well, even popular personalities like Demi Moore and Josh Groban have called for help to donate through their Twitter accounts.

Despite everything though, many Filipinos are thankful for having survived this ordeal, including the Pepper team who are all safe and sound – thank God. This tragedy has brought out the best in many Filipinos. Those who are able have been donating their time, effort and money to those in need. As of now, many individuals and groups have set up relief efforts by accepting donations and distributing them to the affected areas, because the residents there practically have to start from scratch since their homes were destroyed. If you want to help them pick up the pieces, you can do so by sending over cash or goods (clothes, food, drinks, medicines, blankets…) If you’re abroad, you can donate online or by phone.

Donate Online:

PhilippineAid.com
Ayala Foundation (select AFI-Typhoon Relief Fund in drop down menu)
World Food Programme
TXTPower (Paypal) 
Ateneo Alumni Northeast, Inc. 
Xoom
HOPE Worldwide
Australian Red Cross

Donate by Phone:

USA: Call the American Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669. Please choose the 3rd option (International Donation), then tell the operator that your donation is for the Ondoy (Ketsana) typhoon victims in the Philippines.

Local Hotlines:

Red Cross donation through SMS: text REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)

For people who need assistance:

National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Emergency Numbers: (+632) 912-5668, (+632) 911-1406, (+632) 912-2665, (+632) 911-5061. Help hotlines: (+632) 734-2118, (+632) 734-2120

(Published in www.PepperVirtualAssistant.com, September 30, 2009)

CD Review: Interpreter by Silverfilter (Mabuhay Magazine)

The electronica scene in Manila may not be as popular as the ubiquitous show bands, but it is kept alive by one of the more well known local electronica acts, Silverfilter.  This one-man act just released his second album, Interpreter, which features a collection of remixes that Silverfilter has done over the years.  The 12-track CD contains a wide range of music, from chill out to techno to house.  The opening track, “The Indefinite…,” showcases Silverfilter’s musical expertise as he transforms rock music into electronica.  You would surely be hooked to the pulsating beats and infectious vibe of Silverfilter’s music.   

(You can get the album from www.silverfilter.com or www.fliptunes.net.)

Rating: 4 stars

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2008)

CD Review: "From Inside the Fishbowl" by Overtone (Mabuhay Magazine)

Overtone is one of the long-time playing local rock bands who finally took a leap from regularly performing in bars into releasing their debut album, “…from inside the fishbowl.”  The songs from their album reflect the kind of alternative and pop punk music that they perform in their gigs.  Tracks such as “Comic Book Hero” and “I’m Not a Psychic” show how foreign bands like Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Hoobastank have been great influences to them.  The other upbeat tunes in Overtone’s 12-track CD would definitely make you appreciate punk rock more.

(You can get their album from selected record bars around the metro.)

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2008)